Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bring back Home Economics: JAMA Editorial

I gave a talk two weeks ago, where I spoke about the origins of the college I went to, the College of Human Ecology at Cornell. It was originally started as the school of home economics. Its leader was Martha Van Rensaleer, a visionary female. The goal of the college was to teach women the skills they needed to be effective in the home in NY farms.


Martha Van Rensaleer went on to become a advocate for women and children's health and wellbeing. In 1930 she helped form the National Children's Charter which said:
"“For every child health protection from birth through adolescence, including: …the insuring of pure food, pure milk, and pure water.”

I think we can help guarantee this to our children by teaching them home economics skills, as this editorial states. We can also continue the great work of Martha Van Rensaleer, by teaching people nutrition through state cooperative extensions, such as the same Cornell Cooperative Extension that MVR was a leader of in the 1900s. The country's agricultural schools can be the birthplace of educators in nutrition and innovative farmers. They successfully improved nutrition in the early part of last century. They could do the same in this century.

Food Politics � Here’s a thought: bring back Home Ec

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mr.Evil Creates Fake Charities to Fight Public Interest Groups like MADD, CSPI, and the Humane Society

Anyone who is familiar with nutrition advocacy will know the group, "Center for Consumer Freedom." It is an industry front group (started by Phillip Morris) that fights against food policies that could help us become a healthier nation. It just so happens that the man behind this, Mr. Berman, creates these fake charities to fight a bunch of organizations, from the Humane Society to MADD. He makes a fortune off these fake charities. This articles exposes it all.

Investigative Report: Richard Berman : The Humane Society of the United States

I found the quote from his son most damning:
"'My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molester. An exploiter. A scoundrel. He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke. He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dieticians, doctors, and teachers. His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America. …'"

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Colbert's Salt Shaker

While this video clip is very funny, Michael Jacobson points out that it is a tragedy that some many people die each year from too much salt intake. Now we can debate whether the number is 150,000, as the health organizations state, or if it is much smaller. However, the question is: Why do we need this much salt?
FDA Salt Regulation - Lori Roman & Michael Jacobson | May 3, 2010 - Elizabeth Warren |
Two vignettes may help. A few years ago I worked at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. I was not paid, but I got to eat all my meals at the center. Their kitchen cooks without salt. All the food tasted good to me, so I did not even notice there was no salt in it. It was not until I left the center and started eating typical American food again that I realized how salty everything was. The bottom line is that if the FDA required companies to slowly roll back the amount of salt in foods, we would probably hardly notice. (Except for the Salt Institute, who would probably notice, which is why they are so against this.)

The other reason the food industries add so much salt is this: Last weekend I ordered some black bean soup from Panera Bread. After I finished, I was really thirsty. I looked on the nutrition info and saw that the half portion of soup had 960mg of Sodium! Now I was so thirsty and had such a salt taste in my mouth, that I needed something sweet. I ordered a smoothie (an extra 260 calories), which cured my problem. My point is that the food and restaurant industries know that by adding more salt they promote people to buy more drinks and other food. (Every try to eat just one salty chip? Ever successful?)

We do not need this much salt in our food system. A reduction would benefit the health of our families, and would prevent many of the strokes and heart attacks of our loved ones.

Conflict of Interest Statement: In 2005,I worked at CSPI on a petition to the FDA to limit the amount of salt in foods.